There are no specified rules on how long one should wait to work out after getting a tattoo. However, there are a few important factors one needs to consider before actually going back to the gym with fresh ink.
The general rule is; you should not go back to exercising right after getting a tattoo. Many would wonder why is waiting so necessary, and others would try to find the connection between tattooing aftermath and exercise.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll tackle this issue and find the best, legit, and checked answers to the aforementioned questions. So, if you’re wondering when and how you should work out after getting inked, then keep on reading!
Working Out and Skin Changes
How Working Out Affects The Skin?
We’re starting from the very beginning. For you to understand the way exercising affects fresh ink, it is important to understand how it affects the skin first.
First of all, it is well known that during a workout your skin stretches. That is a normal occurrence, especially if you’re building muscles and doing endurance or weightlifting workouts. During intense workouts, the skin can even become weaker and lead to the appearance of stretch marks, where exercising comprises lifting heavy weights for a longer period.
Another occurrence important to mention is the increase of the skin temperature during working out. During the workout, your body temperature and heart rate increase, which leads to an increase in body temperature.
As a result, you start sweating, which leads to a thermal buildup of the skin. The reason the skin temperature increases is to cool down the body, as it contributes to the evaporation of sweat from the skin.
Now, all of this seems completely natural and harmless, right? But, what if such skin changes occur while you’re dealing with a fresh tattoo? Let’s find out!
How Working Out Affects Tattooed Skin?
After you’ve received a new tattoo, it will be wrapped in foil and should remain covered for the next 24 to 48 hours; depending on your tattooist’s recommendations. In that time, your tattoo will behave like an open wound, that it is. The tattoo will bleed, ooze, get rid of excess plasma and ink. It is an uncomfortable and painful process.
Once your tattoo is done leaking, it will start drying out and you will have to focus on your aftercare routine.
Now, imagine going to exercise with an open, painful wound. Even without standard skin changes during a workout, you will feel incredibly uncomfortable, and be possibly in a lot of pain. Would you go exercise with a deep cut or an open gun wound? No, you would not.
- Tattooed skin stretching
As we mentioned, exercise contributes to skin stretching. If you go to exercise with a fresh tattoo, you will stretch it most certainly. This will disrupt the healing process and possibly promote heavier oozing and bleeding. You might even disrupt the ink and cause the excess ink to leak out more than it should.
- Sweating and increased temperature
On the other hand, as you exercise you will surely start sweating and the skin temperature will increase. As you can imagine, all of these conditions, wetness, and heat, can mess up the tattoo healing process completely.
Your tattoo wants to dry down since it’s already oozing and wants to cool down since it’s already sore, red, and hot itself. When you’re exercising, the tattooed skin might even flair up even more than it already is, which can lead to excessive bleeding and further injury.
We forgot to mention one important notion when it comes to exercising after getting a tattoo; the clothes. Considering that you won’t go exercise half-naked, you will surely need to wear clothes, which will most likely cover the fresh tattoo. No matter how loose or tight the clothes, the friction between the clothes material and the tattoo will occur for sure.
As a result of the friction, your tattoo wrapping could fall off and you could directly injure the tattooed skin since the friction will be direct. Your clothes could stick to the tattoo and dry as such, which would require you to ‘unstick’ them from the freshly tattooed skin. Sounds painful!
Furthermore, even if the tattoo stays wrapped somehow, the friction can still cause skin irritations and contribute to infections, especially in the first 2 days. Later, when the tattoo has started to heal, the friction can rub off scabs and contribute to tattoo peeling, which is not good for the aftercare.
Is There Any Way To Work Out After Getting Tattooed?
Even though there are some ways one can carry out a workout with a fresh tattoo, we still do not recommend any intense and sweat-inducing physical activity until the tattoo has fully healed!
Now, as you can see, working out after getting a tattoo is surely not a good idea. However, we didn’t say it is an impossible mission. There are a few ways and tips on how you can stay active even when freshly tattooed, but some factors of risk must be considered.
The riskier the placement of the tattoo on the body, the lower the chance you will be able to properly exercise after getting tattooed. That is the general rule.
Now, if the tattoo is placed somewhere where the skin tends to stretch and sweat the most, you should avoid working out. For example, if the tattoo is placed on the torso, around knees, elbows, around the armpit area, or hands, you may want to delay your workout routine for some time.
These areas stretch and sweat the most, which could impair the healing process of the tattoo.
Also, this part can be tricky because there are so many sports and physical activities, and each of them affects different parts of the body. So, to sum up, if the workout, exercise, or sports activity directly affects the tattooed area (by stretching, pulling, increasing friction, and could get hit) then DO NOT exercise with a fresh tattoo.
If the tattoo is properly covered with wrapping and looser clothes, and not directly affected by the activity, then you could try doing some light exercising. We still want you to bear in mind the sweating and the increase of body temperature, which could still pose risk for tattoo healing.
Type of Workout and Intensity
As we mentioned, not every workout and activity is the same, and each affects different muscles and body areas. So, to determine whether you should do your regular workout routine, we must address the type and the intensity of your workout.
If you plan on lifting weights, we’re telling you right away; regardless of the tattoo placement, it will get messed up, and you could injure yourself. Lifting weights affects the whole body since the intensity and the pressure on the body is incredible.
So, avoid doing any types of workout that are physically intense and can result in heavy sweating. Avoid running for a long time, lifting weights, and overly stretching. An intense workout can lead to the popping of the tattoo (since the new skin is forming and the blisters are fresh and fragile).
And even if you do plan on doing some light working out, we still DO NOT recommend you do it too early into the tattoo healing process.
If your workout takes place outside in the field, or inside, in the gym, is it important to know that the area where you workout is as clean as possible. First of all, we would strongly recommend you stop working out outside; the world is full of bacteria and viruses which could easily grab on your body and enter it through the open wound that is your tattoo. Let’s avoid that scenario.
Secondly, if you have even the slightest doubt that your gym is squeaky clean and that the equipment is regularly disinfected and cleaned, do not work out there, especially with a fresh tattoo. The gym is the perfect place for bacteria and virus spreading, so, unless you want your tattoo to infect, try working out from the comfort of your home for a while.
As we mentioned, tattoos and clothes aren’t best friends. The result of such an interaction is friction, so you might want to avoid wearing tight workout clothes. However, wearing clothes that are too loose carries some risks itself.
If the clothes are too loose, they simply serve as a welcoming committee for all the bacteria and germs that are planning to attack your tattoo; we mean that there is too much open space between your skin and the clothes that are too loose.
So, try to find a balance between tight and loose; make sure the clothes are still fitting you, while not pressing on the skin directly. This will reduce any chances of friction, rubbing, and skin irritation, as well as bacteria and germ buildup.
Post-Workout Tattoo Aftercare
Now, this might be one of the biggest issues when it comes to working out and a fresh tattoo. After you’re done with the workout, it is essential to take a shower and wash away the dirty sweat.
Now, it is not recommended to shower with a fresh tattoo for at least 24 hours. Water can prevent the tattoo from drying up and can prolong the healing process, increasing the possibility of an infection.
So, if you did decide to work out with a fresh tattoo, you might want to wash the surrounding tattoo area with antibacterial soap and lukewarm water. Do not apply any lotions onto the tattoo, and do NOT even think of putting Vaseline on it.
Vaseline and petroleum-based products are only useful during showers when the tattoo has started to properly heal. Otherwise, they should not be used on tattoos and skin!
As you can see, it is really important to cautious with a new tattoo, if you want it to heal properly and fast. There is no general rule on how long you should wait before being able to work out carefree. We recommend you wait until the tattoo is healed, which could be between 2 weeks and a month. In the meantime, you can go for walks and do some light exercising, but not while the tattoo is still fresh, especially the first 2 days.